Archive for the ‘How We Started’ Category

Team History: Pre-1991

Tuesday, June 26th, 1990

Peter and Betsy de Manio rowing out of their backyard on Siesta Key introduced local adults to the sport of sculling and created the Sarasota Scullers. They conducted some seminars under the tutelage of Bill Bachman from Tampa and Ric Ricci from Connecticut College. While attending the Miami International Regatta in 1991, Mary Ann Garcia, a friend of Peter and Betsy was impressed by what she saw and asked Peter if there might not be some interest in the local high schools to start a rowing club. She pledged $4,000 to assist in the purchase of the first boat. Glenn Darling, the only youth rowing with the Sarasota Scullers adult club, learned quickly and arranged for a meeting at Riverview High to attract other youth rowers.

This is the original Sarasota Scullers crest that Betsy and Peter de Manio designed at their kitchen counter in 1990.

The meeting in May at the Science Auditorium attracted over 100 students. Some of the students started rowing immediately and on July 13, 1991, a small group of students traveled to Tampa to compete in their first regatta, the Sunshine Games, as the Sarasota Scullers because we did not yet have a Riverview High Sponsor. Josh Lang in the Novice single and Glenn Darling in the Youth single each won a gold medal. Peter added to the medal parade with a gold in the Masters single and a tradition of commitment and excellence was begun. As the group grew that summer, the new rowers practiced twice a day, 6:00 a.m and 6:00 p.m., six days a week, working hard to catch up and perfect the skills necessary to compete successfully for the upcoming season.

Bill Bachman presented many rowing seminars to our early Sarasota Scullers and helped us to attract new rowers as here at Turtle Beach.

They began to race as Riverview High School. Peter created the Sarasota Scullers Youth Rowing Program as an umbrella organization in order to raise the funds to purchase the equipment as well as to permit rowing to expand into the other area schools. Eventually Sarasota County had teams from Cardinal Mooney, Pine View, Riverview, Sarasota and Venice competing in the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association Championships with excellent results.

Mary Ann Garcia to whom our program owes so much for getting us off to a strong start with her initial $4,000 contribution for the first boat. Later she funded an annual $1000 scholarship to the outstanding graduating scholar athlete.

Team History: Riverview Crew (1991-1992)

Wednesday, June 26th, 1991

The crew rapidly grew too big for Peters backyard. In addition, it had acquired an eight and some fours from Rollins College and it needed a beach from which to launch. Enter Christine Starker (Butler) and Michael Butler who allowed us to come on to their property, clear it of Australian Pines and build some racks. Frank Howell became the master contractor for the project and we soon had a new home.

The Riverview crew of 1991-92 was an immediate success with strong support from its three faculty sponsors, John Cooper, Kevin Flynn and Earle Jones who all worked hard to launch a winning season. The fledgling crew accomplished goals deemed unattainable at the beginning of the season. The first year novice Rowing Rams set a standard for our future crews, stretching themselves beyond perceived limits and rapidly earned state wide respect. Repeatedly throughout the season when the crews could have easily won gold medals racing at the novice level, they chose to challenge themselves against junior varsity and varsity crews and produced medal winning performances.

Josh Lang, Kevin Biegel, Jane Livingston and Spencer Duffey show off the Sarasota Scullers banner at the wine tasting fund raiser at Phillippi Estate Mansion.

They tasted their first competition at the Head of the Hooch in Atlanta and later at the Head of the Broad in Hilton Head, South Carolina in singles, fours and eights where they won a gold medal, two silver and two bronze medals.

The spring season started with the Mayors Cup where the mens and womens crews collected a total of three first place finishes added two seconds and a third. By the end of the regatta, everyone knew who the new kids on the block were and we werent being called Riverside anymore. At the Presidents Cup in Tampa our Mens 4+ defeated the Rollins College Freshman by 1.25 seconds in what the announcer described as one of the best races of the day. We now had the reputation of being willing to accept any challenge. At the Florida Crew Classic, now known as The Gainesville Crew Classic, Kyle Donovan, Brian Davis, Kevin Biegel, Spencer Duffey and cox Jane Livingston (all novices) raced in the Varsity 4+ and won our first ever varsity gold medal covering the 2000m course in 6:58. Meanwhile, the women were establishing their reputation by defeating several collegiate crews in the fours and eights.

Our old wooden Kaschper Four, Penn Alumni, was a great attraction with its beautiful finish.

These brash novices continued their medal winning performances in Miami, Melbourne and at the FIRA regatta in Tampa against varsity and junior varsity crews. In Tampa, Sandy Hogle established a reputation for toughness that would become identified as part of the character of our crew when she went to the starting line with a fractured finger, re-fractured it at the start, continued racing and won a gold medal in her 8+.

In its first State Championship Regatta, Riverviews novice crew finished sixth in total points out of the twelve competing crews while winning silver in the Mens JV 8+ and bronze in the Womens 3rd 4+.

At seasons end, racing against 18 crews from Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida at the Southeastern Championships in Atlanta, the Mens crew was in full stride, winning five medals in five events, and the womens crew added a sixth medal. The men took the gold in the Novice 8+ and Novice 4+, then rowed up and won silver medals in the Junior Varsity 4+ and Varsity 4+ and then added a gold medal in the Intermediate 8+. The women elected not to race Novice and instead tested themselves by rowing up and winning a silver medal in the Intermediate 8+.

Riverview seniors, Steve Bouffard, Leigh Brantley, Brian Davis, Kyle Donovan, Spencer Duffey, Beth Hoefer, Drew Rutledge and Stacey Warden will always be remembered for their roles in getting high school rowing off to a great start in Sarasota.

Team History: (1994-1995)

Sunday, June 26th, 1994

By the end of our fourth year we had introduced rowing to over 1000 students from Booker, Cardinal Mooney, Pine View, Riverview, Sarasota and Venice high schools. We had held our first summer program to introduce rowing to 7th and 8th graders. Many of those who tried rowing stuck with it and went on to row in outstanding collegiate programs. Two of our rowers, Bill Plifka and Grant Earl, represented the US in the Junior World Championships in Munich, Germany. All who were a part of the program gained something from the experience that will remain a part of them for the rest of their lives.

They experienced the feeling of accomplishment that comes from hard and selfless work, striving with teammates for a common goal where individual recognition is hidden in shadows but where individual responsibility stands out in bold relief. In our first four years we have traveled to Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Charleston, Philadelphia, England, San Diego as well as all over Florida. Our crews coached by Peter de Manio have won 2 National Scholastic Rowing Association Championships, 6 Southeast Regional Varsity Championships, 8 Florida Scholastic Rowing Association Varsity Championships, 2 Head of the Charles High School Medals, 3 Head of the Schuylkill races, The San Diego Crew Classic and 2 Reading Town Championships in addition to over 100 other events.

The SSYRP crest designed by Peter de Manio and worn for the first time by the crew that went to Henley for the Temple Challenge Cup.

Our rowers are now being courted by top collegiate rowing programs and we have placed athletes, many with athletic scholarships, on the rowing programs of such programs as Boston University, Florida Institute of Technology, Jacksonville University, Orange Coast, Northeastern University, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, University of Central Florida and University of Washington. We have athletes rowing on programs that do not offer athletic scholarships but who look for good rowers to fill out their rosters such as Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Holy Cross, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.

This years high lights were winning the San Diego Crew Classic, an unheard of achievement for a Florida crew. We then traveled to England and won the Reading Town Regatta in the Senior Eights. The following week we won the first race of the Temple Challenge Cup by defeating Holy Cross University by a third of length. The next day, we led Nihon University of Japan all the way to the Stewards Enclosure only to be caught at the end and lost by one third of a length.

Kevin O'Neil and Rob Woelfel, 1995 Scholastic Rowing Association Champions in the straight pair.

At the State Championships, Sarasota High won the Mens 4+ with Paul Semian, Bill Plifka, Trevor Melderis, Dan Newman and Bree McNichol. Riverview High won the Mens Varsity 8+ for the third year in a row with Tim White, Josh Guill, Justin Kiner, Ricardo Heinrich, Chris Liwski, Matt Liwski, Lacy Doolin, Rick Hinkle and James Durrant. Riverview also won the Varsity Womens 4+ with Katie Williams, Whitney Robbins, Stefanie Sobotka, Mackenzie Mudgett and Annie Hammel.

Cardinal Mooney with Rob Woelfel and Kevin ONeil won the Mens Pairs at the Scholastic Rowing Association Championships. It is unfortunate that upon their return to Sarasota, when Rob, Kevin and Peter attempted to present the plaque to Cardinal Mooney to hang in their gym, their athletic director (Michael Dowling, who also happened to be the football coach) refused to accept the trophy.

Historical note: Rob rowed for two years at Orange Coast and then two years at Cal Berkley. Kevin rowed four years at Princeton and won a gold medal in the Eastern Sprints.

Team History: (1997-1998)

Thursday, June 26th, 1997

Seven years of growth and success is not accomplished without help. Starting with the initial gift and encouragement of Mary Ann Garcia our fleet grew through the generosity of the Goldsmith/Greenfield Foundation, The Selby Foundation, The Venice Foundation, the Van Pelt family, the Letschert family, the de Guia family, Peter and Betsy de Manio, and the attorneys of the Sarasota County Bar Association. Strong financial support has been provided by the Knox Family Foundation, Columbia HCA, Piero Rivolta, Howard Payne, The Evelyn Sadlier Jones Foundation, Howell Construction, Art Ferguson, and Jane Bancroft Cook. Hands on work on the clubhouse in the way of maintenance and needed repairs and improvements were generously provided by Stan Williams, Joe White, Chuck Berster, Gene Henley, David Semian, the Biegel family, the Eatman family, the Loiko family, the Marot family, the Mudgett family and many others. Stan Williams, Steve Gray, Joe White, Jack Oslinsky, Gene Henley all contributed countless hours driving our boats to regattas in Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, San Diego, Atlanta and all over the state of Florida. Kevin ONeil and David Shoemaker were very active in fund raising and giving financial support to the club.

In the beginning when we couldn’t find a home, Michael Butler and Christine Starker opened up their home to us and provided access to the ICW.

When we were seeking recognition in the schools, Riverview Principal Art Williams acknowledged our accomplishments at the Riverview graduation in 1993. When we needed a sponsor to get rowing started in the schools, it was John Cooper, Kevin Flynn and Earle Jones of Riverview who stepped forward. Carol Knoblick did a great job recruiting outstanding girl athletes who went on to establish a solid foundation for women’s rowing in Sarasota.

The fruits of all this labor can be seen in the outstanding achievements of the student athletes who have passed through our program and the colleges and universities to which they have gained admission. Here is a sampling of what a few of the class of 98 have accomplished and what they have had to say about their experience with Peter de Manio and the program. Andy Berster and Chris Liwski received scholarships to row at Syracuse. Trudo Letschert summed up his rowing experience before heading for the Boston University Crew with, I owe a lot to crew and to Peter, and don’t know what I would be doing if I hadn’t found crew. Lacy Doolin heading for the University of Washington to cox for the Huskies borrowed a line from the US Army when she said, We do more before 8:00 a.m. than most people do all day. Kristen Wheat expressed her feelings about crew and Peter, saying, It has given me a lifetime of memories and friends. It has taught me responsibility, improved me physically, definitely improved my concentration in classes and schoolwork and I have learned a very beautiful sport which I can do the rest of my life. Peter cares about the rowers and their futures. He is not only interested in how they perform on the water, but he wants them to aim for the best colleges.

To sum it all up, its wonderful how lucky you can be when you work hard. Thank all of those people who have believed in us and helped to make it all possible.

Riverview's lightweight four of Adam Connelly, Zac Selsky, Kristin Olson, Jon Magharan, Jeremy Taylor, Florida Scholastic Rowing Association Championships.

This years highlight was Adam Connelly, Zac Selskey, Jon Magharan, Jeremy Taylor and Kristin Olson winning the State Championship in the Mens Lightweight Four. They followed this up with a very close second place finish to Father Judge at the Scholastic Rowing Association Championship in Cherry Hill, NJ.